Sunday, May 30, 2010

Divided Heart

Our Disaster Recovery family at our goodbye dinner Friday night -- laughs combined with tears -- it divides my heart but also makes me realize just how blessed we have been to be a part of God's amazing plan!

Eddie, Alan, Sandy, Rocky, Tim and Jenn, Lee and Jim -- all have touched our lives more than they know. They have been there with us and for us, in front of us and behind us through the good times and the tough times. I cannot express our thanks to all of them!

We will miss all of you more than you know -- but you all also know how important it is to take time away, to regroup and be refilled ourselves -- and for that we thank you! May God continue to bless each of you -- Tim with health, Jenn with a wonderful new baby (yes Tim, you too), Sandy with health, Rocky with a continued smile and love for this "work", Alan with health and the continued positive energy and love for each of us and Eddie with everything it takes to continue to be the leader God has called him to be!

Time is ticking as we get ready. Monty has the trucks nearly ready, tires are a last minute thing and tools are never ending. One more day and Timothy will fly in from Florida to help us for a day before we all saddle up and head north!

We appreciate your continued prayers for safe and uneventful travel.

Until next time . . . thanks for everything Texas family!!!!!!!! Susan and Monty

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Deuteronomy 1 : 6

"you have stayed long enough on this mountain"

The time has come for Monty and I to head home -- Indiana -- to children, grandchildren, parents, siblings and the rest of our family, our church family, friends and neighbors -------------for the next 3 months!!!!!!!!!!!!

When we went through our missions training school we learned that missionaries out in the field should be out for 9 months and home for 3 months ---- each year!

Well . . . we've been in the field without any break for nearly 3 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We NEED the break and God has spoken! He is the one who told us, He is the one who told us when we need to leave and He is the One we are trusting.

We have dedicated our lives to disaster ministries and cannot continue to give our best to help others if we don't take care of ourselves. (I'm still telling myself this even as I tell you)

The time has come -- God has given us the signs -- and yet it is tougher than you can imagine. We have been here in Texas since October of 2008 and it has become like home. God has touched our lives in so many ways, extended our family in so many directions and yet He is telling us that we've been here long enough.

It is our sincere prayer that our donations will continue during our time at home. Somehow I can't imagine going home for sabbatical and having to get a job while there?! God has always provided us with what we need just when we need it and we thank all of you for being His hands and feet in supporting us.

Our granddaughter will be 2 years old next month and we'll actually get to be there to celebrate with her -- we've only seen her 3 times!

We have a wedding to attend -- one of our volunteers who came for weeks and has invited us to the wedding -- we wouldn't miss it!

Family reunions are scheduled and we will be there! It's been a long time! It's now time!

UMCOR has brought Dan from the Beaumont, Texas camp here to step in right behind us and he will continue to run teams and get homes rebuilt and lives put back together. This UMCOR team has become like family to us and we are all getting together tomorrow evening for our goodbye -- I'll need a large box of tissues!

Where will we go at the end of the 3 months? Is there a shortage of disasters? Have you heard the hurricane forecast?

God will let us know when we need to know! And then we'll pack up, hitch up and be off once again.

The blog will continue while we are off and we hope you will continue with us.

Please keep us in your prayers as we prepare to leave. I will be updating you each day as we are now down to less than a week before we pull out and head north.

Until next time . . . we are trusting You, Lord Jesus! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Birthday ????

Yep -- today is my birthday!!!!

When Timothy called today he asked me how it felt to be 37 and I told him that 19 years ago it felt great!!!!!!

Monty -- what an amazing husband he is -- not only did he take me shopping to "pick out my own gift" he also picked up a card for me -- one that came from someone else!! :)

I have a brother who has been dumpster diving since before it had a name and so this photo was taken especially for him -- all in the family!

Seriously -- I haven't felt good all day. Some sort of bug I guess. It should be illegal to feel bad on ones birthday don't you think?

We did manage to have a nice dinner this evening -- leaving enough for Monty to have a midnight snack also. The one night I had planned on indulging in the most ridiculous dessert and . . . oh well.

Anyway -- I also send out a Happy Birthday to my super dear friend, Ellen! We share this special day and I miss spending it with her! Happy Birthday Ellen -- miss you and love you!

Until next time . . . thanks Mom (and Daddy!!!!!) -- for bringing me into this world!

Susan and Monty

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Huntsville helps Joyce

It was the 4th Saturday of the month and just like clockwork - here came Huntsville.
We know their church van quite well and are always anxious to see who is returning, who is new and how many there are this time.
Many were returning, some were new and there were a total of 8. They knew ahead of time what they would be doing and where and were totally prepared with anything and everything they needed. They somehow make that church van also double as a tool trailer!
They were returning to Joyce's house with the goal of unloading the storage POD that has been holding her household things for the past months while we worked inside. They reached and surpassed that goal. Every piece of furniture is now inside and in its place but the boxes . . . well, Ms Joyce will be unloading them for quite some time. The women did help her get shelf paper inside of each cabinet and got a good start with the unloading. But Joyce wanted to be the one to organize her kitchen and each of us women completely understand that. She wants to know where everything is and knows she will enjoy rediscovering each item in the boxes.
The men took a turn and concentrated on getting the sheetrock back on the ceiling of her garage and got almost all of it done. The heat was tough as there was no air in the garage and trying to work with the door closed was just impossible so that task will be left for the next team.
When this team originally scheduled themselves they chose the 4th Saturday of March, April and May and yesterday they said they want to continue with that scheduling! Awesome! They learned what a joy it is to return to a house the following month and see the progress and know they played a part in returning a homeowner to "home." Good job team! Thanks for giving one of your weekend days to be such a great blessing!!!!!!!!!!!
This morning Monty and I are headed to Pastor Bob's church. He asked us to come and share testimony and Monty is "on" for today! His testimony is more than powerful and although I know he will do fine -- he is doing a bit of pacing in preparation! :)
Until next time . . . we hope all of you are headed to church to praise God for all the blessings in your own lives. Susan and Monty

Friday, May 21, 2010

Amazing Work

They did it all -- the flooring, the kitchen cabinets, the sink and plumbing completely installed with water running, trim around the windows and floors, electrical boxes replaced with covers and ceiling fans hung -- all in 4 1/2 days! What a team of men! They managed to do the little things, the special touches that really set off a house! My wish? That they could stay longer! But with the heat ramped up to the mid 90s and humidity almost that high I know they were ready to get back home to the air conditioning! Both Collier and Justine are thrilled and ever so thankful!
As soon as I had the tools picked up and was heading home Monty called for some help. We had lunch with Pastor Bob of the San Leon Community Church and Mr Carl and his wife, Brenda. We wanted to thank them for the use of their church for our orientations for all these months and also bless them in a special way. They are building another sanctuary and needed some rock brought in for a driveway. Monty had located a place here locally so he went back to get the dump trailer hooked up and off he went for the gravel. When he returned to the church he got one back tire caught in the loose gravel and thank goodness Mr Carl showed up minutes before I did because with a large rope and a little tug Monty was out and he and I went back to get a second load. We might be able to bring in even more next week.
While at lunch Pastor Bob asked Monty and I if we would speak at his church this Sunday. He wants Monty to give his testimony and of course we were honored to say yes. Now any of you who know us already know Monty says he's not a speaker -- but you know different! And Sunday he just might realize it himself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tomorrow we welcome another team from here locally. They are coming to spend the day and will be working at Joyce's hopefully getting her storage container emptied and housekeeping set back up again inside. She is thrilled with her new carpeting and is anxious to see this team again as they worked with her last month when they were here. She admitted that she's been quite lonely without the teams each week!
Another week coming to a close and another week of amazing blessings -- thanks Boerne, Texas!
Until next time . . . bless someone else today! Susan and Monty

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More Boerne folks arrive

They were joined by more new faces and even more work is being done!
You can see the flooring and as I write this they are finishing the final touches.
The kitchen cabinets and counter top arrived this afternoon and they were making plans to get them layed out for tomorrows installation. The combination of the counter top with the flooring is beautiful! Justine will be pleased when she gets home from work!
They are also putting up the trim around the windows and the base on the floor in the kitchen and dining rooms. Collier had a smile on his face when he got home from work and saw the progress!
Who knows who will be here tomorrow? It's been fun to meet new people each day and yet sad to see some gone -- a revolving door of volunteers this week! Thanks Martha for putting all the details together and getting the guys here!
I had a question from a reader wondering about Lawrence and Arnesha's house and how it's coming along? The two of them are working away and understand that the month of May is always a tough one with volunteers. Our numbers are always down and with the heating and air and electricians finishing up their work it's been a good time to be out of there -- too many people to work around. When I saw them last they had been finishing the sheetrock and were thinking about starting the tile walls which will go around the tub.
Joyce and Rosaland are also on hold until the teams pick back up in June. Each understands and knows that we are completely and solely dependant on volunteers to do the work. Each also knows that God has perfect timing and the day WILL come when they are "done" and all is beautiful once again.
On a side note, please keep our construction coordinator in Galveston, Sandy, in your prayers. You might remember that a couple of weeks ago he suffered a stroke and a couple of weeks before that a heart attack. His doctors are not clearing him to return to running volunteers so Alan and Rocky from the Houston area are going to step in and cover for him. He could really use some prayers right now and in the future.
Tim is doing very well since his brain tumor surgery and will be starting chemo in the next couple of weeks. Jenn is "growing" with her pregnancy and doing the best she can to cope with all that is happening with them. Please continue praying for them.
I can't believe tomorrow is Thursday already! Where does the time go?
Until next time . . . thanks for all the prayers! God is listening to each one! Susan and Monty

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Boerne returns

The PDA "blue shirts" came back! Yesterday we welcomed the first part of them. They will have more men joining them throughout the week but that didn't stop them from jumping in and getting to work in Collier and Justine's house!
Since the PDA camp is closed this month we are housing them in one of our local Methodist churches and after seeing the accomodations they were thrilled! The church and its members do a wonderful job at caring for the volunteers, clean sheets for their beds and an industrial size kitchen if they chose to cook. These men aren't doing any cooking but still enjoy the space and place to relax.
We immediately got to work with a materials listing of what they would need and they followed me back to the tool trailer to pick up tools. They are putting down luan flooring over the subflooring in order for the surface to be completely smooth for the vinyl tiles they will be laying. The luan was all down before noon today and they planned on starting the tile flooring. The kitchen cabinets and counter top will be delivered tomorrow so they can continue working. Collier and Justine were all smiles when they returned home yesterday and met the team and heard what they hope to accomplish this week. They are very ready to have their kitchen back!
This team is quite special this week. As you remember, they were just here a couple of weeks ago and when they returned home they contacted numerous small churches in their area and challenged them to help put together a team to return to help us rebuild. There are representatives from many churches and it's great to see them come together to help others! Again -- I think it's the way Jesus wanted it!
I can't wait to see how well they progress this week and who else will be joining them! Be sure and stay tuned.
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Angels in cowboy boots

Over 1500 buckets filled with food, palletted, shrunk wrapped and ready for the trip to Haiti to feed thousands! What an amazing day!
The warehouse in Houston was packed with pallets of food items and the people came out in droves -- each taking a bucket with the emblem "Angels in Cowboy Boots" on the front. They carried it from station to station filling it with food items.
My station was the first --me and the guys! We had large plastic jars of peanut butter and small plastic bowls. From there they traveled to pick up sugar, stewed tomatoes, cornmeal, beans, rice, silverware and last but not least -- a hand made card for each bucket.
The forklift driver was quite busy as we went through pallet after pallet. Folks made it into a game, some carrying 3 buckets at a time. And believe me, by the end of their travel that bucket was quite full. In fact, the men at the end of the line with the rubber mallets pounding them closed probably can't lift a fork to their own mouths today because of sore muscles!
It was a great day! The goal of 1500 buckets was reached and surpassed. Each bucket will feed many hungry tummys and will bless them beyond measure. It was an honor to be a small part of the entire picture God has put together.
May God go with each bucket, into each hungry tummy and heart and bless them and give them hope!
Until next time . . . have you helped in any way? Susan and Monty

Friday, May 14, 2010

This and That, Here and There

One of Texas finest!

With no teams of volunteers this week it's been the opportunity to get some odds and ends wrapped up. Monty has mounted a tire underneath the truck - even with some parts missing. He also has been working on tool organization - which is never ending! He's down to trying to empty out the back of his own truck - pray for him! :)

Today we have the bed of my truck loaded with things to go into the warehouse. Our warehouse is donated space and right next to the interstate so it's handy for all of us.

I have been able to get some much needed paperwork caught up - for now anyway. Our printer took a dive awhile back and the one I purchased as a replacement ended up doing a really nasty job of printing so I returned it and got another one. It turns out to be a good one so I guess it's a keeper. It can also copy which is a feature that will be very helpful. Having our "office" inside the trailer is challenging enough but with a small corner at the table it seems to work out fine. We did find out they just don't make small printers anymore!

And surprise --- our PDA team from last week is returning next week! They managed to reach out to some of their local churches and put together a team of skilled men who will arrive Monday and work all week! What great news for Collier and Justine as they thought they had to wait until June to get more work done. This team will start with subflooring and then laying vinyl in their kitchen and dining room and possibly get to hanging cabinets! Right behind them comes our local Saturday team so hopefully they can make it a 6 day work week! Thanks Martha -- great job in reaching out and spreading the word!

Tomorrow we will be leaving very early and heading to Houston to fill food buckets that will be sent to Haiti. One of the local Methodist churches has it all organized and we are excited about getting to help out. UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) is international and these food buckets will be blessings beyond measure!

Until next time . . . have you done anything to help? Susan and Monty

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Working together

I know you've seen this photo before but a comment on the blog needs to be addressed.

Rick has asked what our connection is with PDA. You can see by the shirts on the team that it stands for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. This organization has been working since who knows when.

When hurricane Ike hit here in Texas they set up a camp in Texas City which is only about 10 minutes from where we are here in San Leon. They decided to feed and house volunteers but didn't have the staffing to case manage and locate homes and supply materials.

They approached the Methodist Disaster Recovery and an agreement was made that we would be happy to put the teams to work for them. They provide a camp manager who takes care of the meals and such and also a construction coordinator who checks on their teams while they are working to make sure they have the tools they need since they also have a tool room at the camp.

The agreement has been such an enormous blessing for Monty and I. Their teams are almost always skilled and with the tool room at the camp it stretches our tools even farther.

Many weeks we have had a combination of teams, some PDA and some Methodist. It's great to bring them all together for a common cause of helping others. I think that's what the Bible is all about, isn't it?!

On Thursday nights PDA has "family night" where they invite the homeowners to dinner. Each team has gotten to know their homeowners and having them all come to dinner and have the opportunity to speak and tell everyone their "story" and how much this help has meant to them is priceless. Once again, the body of Christ comes together to praise Him and His blessings!

PDA is nicknamed the "blue shirts" and you can see why. Amazing arrangement which results in even more homeowners being blessed.

Thanks PDA and thanks UMCOR!

Until next time . . . blessings to all. Susan and Monty

Monday, May 10, 2010

Best Friends = Awesome Mother's Day

They grew up together and I am certain that they kept each other alive during some pretty tough times! When you saw one of them you always saw the other.
When I met Monty - I met Nate. They were nearly inseparable! The stories can go on for days and the laughter would wake the dead. They've been through things that most of us couldn't dream of and they have survived. They've managed to grow up -- almost!
Nate was about 4 hours from us for the weekend with his work and decided to come and spend the time with us. I don't know how long it's been since we've seen him but time never matters. They just pick up where they left off.
Nate treated us to dinner Sat night and the plans were set in motion to spend Mother's Day fishing. Now to most women this might seem like a nightmare instead of a dream. Not me! To see these guys together, to get to enjoy their love for one another, to hear more stories and to laugh until I have to wipe tears -- priceless. After getting some one day fishing license's at Walmart, a couple more poles and some gear we set a meeting time for Sunday morning.
At 9am sharp here was Nate and off we were for a great breakfast and then to the gulf for some fishing. It didn't take 30 seconds from the time I cast my pole (actually Monty cast it but taught me how) that I had a fish on the line and into the shore. That started "the count." Nate was right behind me and poor Monty couldn't even get his hook in the water for having to take my fish off and rebait my hook. I also managed to learn how to bait my own hook but taking off the fish? That just didn't happen!
The day was perfect, clouds and windy and temps way below the forecast. We were still fishing at 6:30pm when I finally had to remind the guys that we were approaching the starving stage. We packed it all in and the final count was a total of 33 fish for all of us -- including an oyster and eel that I caught and not counting the entire shrimp boat that Monty "caught."
When it came time for Nate to leave later in the evening it was very sad! I hated to see him go almost as much as Monty did. One valuable lesson we all learned --- none of us are taking enough time away to do things we love to do -- to unwind and relax.
Some friends we meet come and go, others we consider good friends. Some are even close friends. But those that are lifelong -- that bond that can't be broken -- those friends are family and gifts from God.
Nate, we love you and we thank you for coming and being such a blessing to us both! You may be Monty's lifelong and best friend forever but you are also my dearest friend and we both love you dearly.
Until next time . . . hope all you Mothers had half the day I had! Susan and Monty

Friday, May 07, 2010

Thanks Boerne

They gave it their all and it shows! Collier and Justine's walls are all done and all colorful! Collier was there to thank them and bid them farewell.

They didn't actually leave for home from there -- they wanted to work a couple more hours so they followed me to Joyce's house where they focused on clearing her family room of all sorts of things that have accumulated during her rebuild. They were packing things into the garage and kitchen helping her get a grasp on what goes where. They were even planning on helping her locate all of her sunflower decor that's been stored in the POD. Bless them for all they did and we pray they have a safe drive home.

To top it all off -- they are trying to put together another team to return week after next! When they heard that our scheduled team had cancelled they put on their thinking caps and are trying to reach some of the smaller churches in their area that might not be able to gather enough folks for a large team and hoping they can all get together and make up a sizable team! That would be fantastic and we will await their phone call and be ready to house them and put them to work!

The new roof is complete for Lawrence and Arnesha and the heating and air and electric should be done tomorrow --yes, they also work on Saturdays!

Another week of moving forward, step by step. Some pretty big steps took place at Collier and Justine's and the smile on his face as we drove out of the drive spoke volumes!

Thanks Boerne! You thought your skills only rated a 1 on the scale --- you were WRONG!!

Until next time . . . be a blessing! Susan and Monty

Thursday, May 06, 2010

And then there were 4

Our Boerne team all worked together once again yesterday. All were in Collier and Justine's house where they mastered the art of texturing with a roller and then were moving on to priming both the walls and ceilings. They patched in and did an excellent job of matching texture on already textured ceilings - not an easy job.

Yesterday afternoon they took a break and spent some time on the island, Galveston. The weather was perfect, low humidity with temps in the low 90s. And then it was time for 3 of them to head home.

This morning I met the remaining 4 who were raring to go with the rest of the priming and were planning on doing some painting. They met their goal and were painting the hallway and bedroom and who knows where else by the end of the day. Paint always transforms a home and I know they are anxious for both Collier and Justine to get home from work so they can see how beautiful their home is becoming.

I also stopped by Joyce's to pick up a punch list. She met me at the door with a beautiful rose and card for Mother's Day and we spent the next couple of hours "having church" as she called it. She is such a woman of God and when we both got to talking and sharing stories of how God has worked in our lives the time just flew by! Talking with her was just what I needed today as satan had already set a couple of traps and with Joyce's help I was able to not get caught up in them!

Monty got his 2 garage doors completely done and they are to perfection and look great! It brought smiles all around. Monty gave them instructions that if another storm were to come in here all they need to do is raise the doors and they should be just fine! Let's pray they don't need to even think about it.

Tomorrow is Friday and this team will be wrapping up. We are going to miss them, especially since we don't have another one coming in for a couple of weeks. May is always a slow time for volunteers with Mother's Day, graduations and such so we are used to it but it still makes it tough when there are homes to finish. It's all in God's timing!

Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Welcome Boerne, Texas

Orientation was held at the PDA camp yesterday morning and we welcomed our newest team from Boerne, Texas. We were excited as that is the city Monty and I stayed in during our Christmas break last year. There are only 7 of them which seems really small compared to what we've been getting and on their skill sheets they rated themselves as not very skilled but we have found out otherwise!
We had them divided into 2 teams yesterday. One with Lawrence and Arnesha and the other with Collier and Justine. All were learning the art of sanding sheetrock mud and all were doing well.
A phone call early this morning from Arnesha telling me Lawrence's aunt passed away last night changed the plans for the rest of the week. The entire team is at Collier and Justine's and they are finished with the sanding and are now learning - and mastering - the other art of texturing. Each one has their own technique and are doing very well. You can also see that they are priming the roof/awning that was built last week.
A couple more photos show how you have to really "put your hands into it" when mixing the mud and how "speckled" one can get when texturing over your head! They are all laughing and having a great time and that's what working in the joy of the Lord can do.
Monty had part of them with him first thing this morning loading the trash from Lawrence and Arnesha's. They took it to the dumpster we have located at Rosaland's and by the time they were finished it was time to call for that dumpster to be removed and an empty one dropped in its place. Great job team!
The temps around here are on the rise - yesterday missing one degree of the record of 93! There isn't a cloud in the sky so the sunshine is quite intense but the team is drinking plenty of water and doing well. Boerne is in the hill country of Texas and although it gets quite hot there too this is a bit ahead of schedule.
Tomorrow the new roof will be started at Lawrence and Arnesha's even though they will be busy with family matters. Hopefully the following day they will be back home so the electrician can complete his work followed by the heating and air the next day. Each day moving forward and closer and closer to the end.
Justine stopped by the house yesterday as she took a break from work to meet the team and was thrilled at the progress that has been made in their home. This team hopes to be finished with the texturing tomorrow and then move on to priming and maybe even some painting by the end of the week. And they thought they were unskilled !!!!
On a side note -- we've already received a phone call asking if we are headed to Nashville, TN with the flooding that is going on there. Our answer is "not at the moment." This is not the time. The waters need to receed, emergency personel need to be able to go in, damages need to be assessed and the rest of us need to stay out of their way for now. The time will come for rebuilding and then . . . all I can say is just keep in touch with us and you will know.
In the meantime we all need to pray! Disasters of all kinds are happening all over this United States of ours. Prayer is the number 1 thing that is needed and something everyone can do! If you haven't done it in awhile -- try it -- it works miracles!
Until next time . . . thank you for your prayers! Susan and Monty

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Grab a tissue

The number one question folks ask Monty and I is, "how do you chose the families you help?"

Our answer is always the same, "we don't -- God does!"

Let me unfold a story for you that will prove our statement. The family in this story will remain anonymous and as you read you will understand why but might also be able to figure out which one I am talking about.

Over a year ago we met a family who had lost everything. Nothing new, right? Their house had nearly 7 feet of water inside and they had done what they could to fix things. Some of the walls were already sheetrocked and painted and others were a mess. The kitchen was only stud walls and the electric was shot. Through months and months of paperwork preparation and delays that we couldn't understand the time finally came when we had funding in place and were ready to send in volunteers.

Week by week and month by month they went in and did whatever needed to be done. The girls learned to paint, the son helped out by crawling underneath the house to do electric that no one else wanted to do, the dad wouldn't quit working and both parents would transform things seemingly overnight working nearly until dawn.

I fell in love with these children, how could you not? When NBC Nightly News came and interviewed us for their "Making A Difference" segment they asked us if we had a family they could talk with and a home where they could take some pictures. (By now you've got it figured out) :) This family was "the one" and they were amazing! A smile and wave from a 4 year old little girl that could melt frozen butter ended the segment.

After 6 months of working on their home we finally got to pronounce it "done" and had a house blessing with nearly 70 people standing on their front deck just waiting to give them a hug and see their new home.

We have continued to keep in touch with them. I see the kids getting off the school bus many times and they always wave. We took baskets of small gifts to them on Christmas. On Valentine's day they came to our trailer with a red rose and my heart melted.

Each time we see them we are greeted with huge hugs and smiles!

About a month ago another friend called me to say that some very special funding had been released -- "respite" funds. I didn't even know what that meant but it means "rest and relaxation for those who have suffered amazing loss after a disaster." This friend asked me if I had a few families that would qualify?? She knew who to call !!

This family was the first to come to my mind. When I made the visit to talk with them they admitted that they had never been on a vacation! The oldest child is 14 so you do the math! When my friend and I talked about the possibility of being able to take a trip they all 7 immediately agreed they wanted to go horseback riding! I was surprised but remembered how interested they had been when Monty and I took some time over Christmas and did just that in Bandera, Texas.

They decided they wanted to go to the same ranch we had taken an afternoon ride at. I did some internet research, called the ranch owner and we put the package together. I also made a phone call to the manager to explain the details of how this trip was coming about. She immediately got on board and decided to make this a vacation of a lifetime for this family! They threw in a photo package for the family, decided to take them all to dinner for one night and to give them some riding lessons and let them ride for as many hours as they were in a day if they wanted to!

The committee with the funding approved our request and this was the weekend they went! I would have given anything to have been a mouse and seen their smiles and heard their laughter! (They actually asked us to go along with them but we said this was a trip they needed to do as a family!)

And now the icing on the cake -- God at His best -- I just received an email from the ranch manager, Diane, who was not only telling me how awesome the weekend was but --- they decided to "adopt" this family for the upcoming holidays! They will be bringing the entire family back to the ranch for a free weekend over the holidays! And I know there will be certain "surprises" awaiting their arrival!

As I read her email my eyes were filled with tears -- of joy! Watching God move -- knowing how awesome He is -- the reaffirming of His calling on our lives -- it's impossible to really put into words! What an awesome God we serve and how blessed we are to serve Him!

I hope this touched your heart as well! We never know God's ultimate plan. We never know how He can take some small act of kindness and expand it to reach to seemingly impossible lengths! This family has now touched even more lives -- an entire ranch full! And in doing so they themselves have been touched and have had their family expanded once again.

All God ever asks us to do is love others! So simple yet we make it so complicated!

Simplify your own life ---- love someone today!
Our thanks to the Running R Ranch in Bandera, Texas! If you yourself ever decide to go to a ranch and do some riding ---- they'll be ready!

Until next time . . . Susan and Monty

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Jack came back

Our 3rd orientation of the week brought Jack and his team from the Houston area back to work with us. They were here a few months ago and built a handicapped ramp for Jose and his wife. This time they were only here for the day and they were inside installing trim, outside putting up fence and inside the garage removing the damaged sheetrock on the ceiling for Joyce. If the delivery of the sheetrock had been on time they would have also gotten it rehung in the garage but . . .
It's always good to have teams returning and we thank them for taking one of their weekend days to come and get so much done and put a wonderful smile on Joyce's face.
Our other Texas team that arrived Thursday were pouring it on today. They were at Collier and Justine's building a shingled roof covering over their front door and also finished up the tape coats inside on the new walls. The other half of them (actually two thirds of them) were finishing installing the last pieces of sheetrock in the utility room while the others were starting the taping and mudding. Lawrence was feeling enough better and with a back brace on he was helping everyone get done what they wanted to get done. Arnesha also had her mud pan and knife working away. I have a feeling that even though the team is leaving tonight the both of them will be mudding all day tomorrow to give the Monday team a head start.
It's been quite the busy week with 3 orientations of new teams. While I was checking on teams today I was once again amazed at the progress that happened in just one week!
Joyce just needs 3 gates for her fence and carpeting installed inside and she will be done!
Collier and Justine are nearly ready for primer and paint.
Lawrence and Arnesha will most likely be primed by the end of next week and maybe painted also.
Amazing work, amazing teams, amazing hearts of service who come to be a blessing and leave so much more than they can imagine -- hope, love and a vision of Jesus -- with each homeowner, with each other and with everyone who is watching them while they are here!
Until next time . . . thanks teams!!!! Susan and Monty